Welcome to Extreme Dinner Makeover, the Ribs Edition!
I promise that, unlike Ty Pennington, who, cute though he may be, cries just a bit too often on each episode of Extreme Home Makeover (he's in serious danger of outpacing Michael Landon in Little House on the Prairie in the waterfall department), there will be no tears in this episode. Only lip-smacking, stomach-filling, soul-expanding ribby goodness.
First, the ugly truth. Raw pork ribs. Well, they could be worse looking, I suppose. Like, say, if you poached them for an hour or so.
Yeah. Blah poached ribs. They just don't call out EAT ME! YOU'LL LOVE ME! Sure, they do taste good plain, but why live with plain when there's a better way?
Enter the clay pot, or Romertopf. This is another discovery I made some time ago in the "please let me find a way to safely cook meat without turning it into leather or dust" explorations. This little gem is a wonder of a cooker. You pop ribs in it, cover with water, chopped onions, whole black peppercorns, and a few tablespoons of vinegar, and put it in the oven. The trick is that you soak the clay pieces for at least 15 minutes before putting the dish into a cold (yes, cold) oven. The heat needs to rise slowly so the clay doesn't crack.
After an hour, pour off the water, then add BBQ sauce, and cook for another hour. Oh my.
Oh my oh my oh my.
I imagine you could use store-bought BBQ sauce, but I prefer my own, a recipe my mother gave me. It's very tart, not sweet. You saute chopped onion and celery in butter, then add ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, brown sugar, lemon juice, salt, and water. Simmer for about 45 minutes. By which time your mouth is watering and you're fairly dizzy with desire from the amazing aroma flooding your home. But you still can't eat it right away--as I mentioned, you have to pour it over the ribs and bake for another hour. At that point, you're slathering and drooling, and all you can think about is RIBS RIBS RIBS.
And then you take them out of the clay pot, and you pour extra sauce on them, and you eat them--with your fingers, of course, otherwise what's the point?--and the meat is all juicy and tender and slides right off the bones. And everyone is moaning and slurping sauce off their fingers. And the dogs are pacing around the table, whimpering. And the children are fighting over who gets the last rib, and you settle it by taking it for yourself.
Well. Maybe you wouldn't do that. I am not quite so selfless a mother as to give up the last rib.
This is awfully good with homemade potato chips. For that you need to thinly slice potatoes (Miss T. has a good tutorial with a mandolin here). Then you fry them in oil. BUT--before they're fully cooked, take them out of the oil, drain them on a paper towel, and let them cool for a bit. Then fry 'em again. Soooooooooooo good. Especially with sour cream.